Are Fermented Foods Diabetic Friendly

Are fermented foods diabetic friendly?  They can be, but certainly not all fermented foods are diabetic friendly. We’ll discuss the main reasons why.

  • Fermentation ‘burns’ much of the sugar
  • Too many variables to declare ‘all’ fermented foods diabetic friendly


I have learned much about the splendid goodness that is ‘fermented foods’.  Prior to a diabetes diagnosis I rarely consumed them,except for wines. :)

Are fermented foods diabetic friendly?
Some fermented foods are diabetic friendly.


Sauerkraut in the picture above can be a diabetic friendly food, especially if it’s homemade with no added sugars.  Fermented food has many inherent problems for diabetics, before we discuss let’s explain a few things.

What is fermentation?


Answer: Fermentation is a metabolic process in which an organism converts a carbohydrate, such as starch or a sugar, into an alcohol or an acid. For example, yeast perform fermentation to obtain energy by converting sugar into alcohol. Bacteria perform fermentation, converting carbohydrates into lactic acid.


Note: During the fermentation process MUCH of the carbohydrates are ‘converted’ to alcohol or lactic acid.

Organisms eating carbohydrates such as starches and sugars is a good thing for diabetics, that’s a win!  Fermentation also adds nutrients through bacteria growth while ‘eating’ the bad stuff… stuff that raises blood sugar, that’s a  WIN / WIN! ;)

If it’s a win/win, why do I say fermented foods *can* be diabetic friendly?


Some Fermented Foods are Diabetic Friendly

I knew that bacteria and yeast ‘burned up the sugar or carbohydrates’ … hey, I’ve been to a few wineries, I’ve taken the tours. :)

However,  I never REALLY thought about it, as it relates to the amount of carbohydrates listed in foods  until I became a diabetic.   Then carbohydrate content and restriction became critical to maintaining proper blood sugar control. I had read  about the purported benefits of fermented foods so of course I wanted to try them,

Without a doubt there are many fermented foods that are diabetic friendly. However there are many that are not.


Why Some Are Not Diabetic Friendly


  1. The sugars and carbohydrates of the foods before fermentation can vary. Example cabbage vs milk.
  2. The amount of fermentation can vary by product, depending on how sweet the manufacturer wants to make the product. Example; dry red versus white wines.
  3. Added sugars. Example, any flavored yogurts will typically have added sugars. Avoid these.


Those three things can make eating fermented foods challenging.  Adding to the problem, nutritional labels are often wrong.  They are often wrong on non-fermented foods but even more so for fermented, why?   In many cases the carb totals on the nutrition label are pre-fermented.

This means the actual carb amounts *CAN* be lower than those stated.  *Can*, but may not be.


Some fermented foods are diabetic friendly
Some fermented foods are diabetic friendly

Kefir Example:

Cows Milk per cup has approximately 12 g of carbs per cup (some higher some lower)

Cows Milk Kefir (fermented cows milk) has apprixmately the same amount of carbs 12g.  See the picture  (right) …

Ordinarily there is NO way that I would drink this product based on the carbohydrate count.

But Mark Gaw convinced me to try it back in February  due to it’s nutritional value including it’s ‘pro-biotic’ content…. so I did.


Fermented Foods Testing

My overnight fasting blood sugar levels remained in the 70’s & 80’s, there was no affect on fasting blood sugar. This one product did not spike my blood sugar post meals, but that doesn’ t mean other fermented foods won’t.

In general, YES,  fermented foods are diabetic friendly.

However,  you must test all fermented products before consuming them in significant amounts.


Are Fermemted Foods Diabetic Friendly

Definitely some fermented foods are diabetic friendly.

Individual foods should be tested to confirm expected affect on blood sugar levels.

Not only every company is different but each product has differing amounts of sugar going into the fermentation process and the amount of fermentation is different as well.

** You can not judge the carb totals of fermented products using nutritional labels. **

The above statement applies to all foods but is even more true when it comes to fermented foods for the reason mentioned above.

I only eat Full Fat, plain yogurts & kefirs.  No ‘flavoring’ or added sugars.  Even then, I …test, test, test. :)


Note: Many of my friends make their own fermented foods including sauerkraut, kefirs, yogurts, etc.  That is a way that you can gain control of the process, knowing what going into the foods before and after fermentation.

If you are interested in learning how to ferment at home here are a few Amazon links to products that can help.   Fermentation Kits , Mason jars and Fido canning jars.


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If your blood sugars are elevated and you cannot achieve truly normal blood sugars with diet alone…

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